The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 4, 1993 - 3
* 1 'LAIL
AM student station struggles to be
heard across the University c ampus
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By HOPE CALATI
DAILY STAFF REPORTER
In the deep labyrinth beneath the Student
Activities Building, a band of believers keeps
the faith that its sounds will resonate across the
These believers are the students who run
WJJX 640 AM, one of the University's two
student-run radio stations.
Few people hear the station due to an out-
dated transmission system, but JJX Program
Director Brady Nemmers and other dedicated
students are trying to spread the word.
Ideally, the station would be its own best
advertising, but that is not the case. JJX trans-
mits its signal over carrier current, which is
negated by electrical interference from comput-
ers, microwaves and the like.
Because JJX programming struggled to get
much further than the walls of the Student Ac-
tivities Building, student interest has waned.
LSA senior Ted Oberg, general manager of
the Campus Broadcasting Network, said the
options of buying a transmitter for the station to
move to the on-air AM transmission or switch-
ing to the FM dial were too costly. With carrier
current no longer a viable option, the station is
lobbying the University for air time on its cable
"No, we don't want to stop JJX from operat-
ing," Oberg said. "I think if we continue on the
trend that JJX is on, we'll have two functional
stations down here.... I don't think anyone will
disagree that JJX is not what it could be."
Students who live in Bursley Hall seem to
get the best reception, and people in line at the
Michigan Union eateries can keep time to the
station - if they can hear it over the din.
"It's hard to get a listenership with this
system," Nemmers said.
Nemmers and former Program Director
Gwyn Hulswit said they found their way to the
station almost by accident.
"I can't even remember how I heard about
the radio station," said Hulswit, an LSA senior.
"When I brought it up with other students, they
didn't know it was around or that it was a student
When Hulswit began her tour at JJX, the
station was in the first stages of its rebirth from
wounds suffered in 1987. After much-publi-
cized racial jokes were broadcast on the air, the
station was shut down that February by the then
Office of Student Services, until 1991.
"I don't know if JJX ever disappeared,"
WJJX is not broadcast over the air so it does
not need an Federal Communications Commis-
sion (FCC) license, but the station does maintain
its own prohibition of indecency and obscenity.
"Any student organization has its highs and
lows, and the late '80s was JJX's low point,"
Oberg said. "We really hope to move past it ...
I think that's something looking over our shoul-
der all the time."
Oberg gave Hulswit credit for bringing the
station back to life and said Nemmers deserves
w credit for continuing the rebirth.
In August 1991, JJX came back on the air.
Hulswit took the helm in 1992 for one year.
Among other duties, she recruited, trained and
supervised 30 students and represented JJX to
the board and executive staff.
Hulswit said, "Because we can only broad-
cast to students, I think it's important for us to
have students and only students."
Nemmers said, "In my mind, the students
needed a station where they could try a real radio
Hulswit said he didn't even try to get on
CBN. "I was very happy with JJX. I was very
involved with it. I got a lot out of it," he said.
Hulswit said he enjoyed the challenge of
getting JJX to be taken seriously by CBN.
"I think this is a very important step for JJX
because we're kind of considered the younger
sibling of JJX," Hulswit said. "I think it's
showing more that we're contributing finan-
cially to the station and it won't be such a
humbling experience when we ask for money."
Hulswit praised JJX. "I was given a lot if
freedom to play whatever music I wanted, but
I think a lot of students think it's limiting
because it is carrier current."
Several people spoke at the January Board
of Directors meeting about the reoccurring
issue of student involvement at the stations and
the report of CBN Program Director Dirk
Schulze about the level of involvement of stu-
dents and non-students.
DJ Tom Southerland defended the role of
community members, "Those non-students are
important in keeping the station going 365 days
a year - not just semester to semester."
But JJX students argue that CBN does not
fulfill its mission as a student station.
Brady Nemmers, the program director at
WJJX, said, "If you asked 100 people, five to
10 would know what it is and less will know it's
a student station." Nemmers said, "I think we
need more shows that people can relate to at
times they listen."
The report on the ratio of students to non-
students was hotly contested, with the board
station with commercials." As program director
he said he tries to maintain continuity by urging
the DJs to play one of 30 songs of the station's
play list each half hour.
But the station has fallen far from its previ-
ous popularity. The station used to run remote
broadcasts from the Union, covered more sport-
ing events and had a greater share of the power
in deciding the direction of the Campus Broad-
Oberg said, if you look at JJX in the early
1980s, it was very strong.. The advertising sales
exceeded fundraising revenues. "They were a
more vocal part of the decisions that the entire
network made," he added.
WJJX and WCBN 88.3 FM - the student-
run station on the FM dial - share the same
suite in the basement of the Student Activities
Building. The same governing board oversees
both stations and they share the same music
library of 50,000 records and 5-6,000 compact
But separate isn't equal. JJX has been dubbed
the younger sibling of CBN in the present power
structure at the Campus Broadcasting Network.
Because JJX is not FCC-regulated and barely
reaches students in the residence halls, it is seen
as somehow less than its FM counterpart.
Oberg defended the split. He said JJX has a
twofold mission: to educate and to serve listen-
ers, while the mission of CBN is to educate both
the people who work at the station and the
people who listen.
* The directors of CBN said they do not see
campus radio as the exclusive domain of stu-
Oberg defended CBN's eclectic free-form
style. "It's not the trendy thing to do and I think
that's one of the reasons that we do it," Oberg
said. "With our limited resources, we can't beat
anyone else at their game."
CBN has more resources, Hulswit said. JJX
can borrow CBN supplies, but JJX still contends
with a sound board that isn't as up-to-date as
CBN's and equipment that does not get re-
paired. "We're very pushed aside," Hulswit
General Manager Ted Oberg said he dis-
agrees with Hulswit's analysis. "The perception
that JJX is the little sibling is misplaced," Oberg
said. This perception is due in part to the most
recent history of JJX.
split on whether to accept the report. Schulze
said he will complete a revised report in time
for the Feb. 14 board meeting.
"Next month when we submit a clearer
report, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we will be '
able to see that students have access to CBN's
studios," Oberg said. "I think the most impor- X
tant thing to understand is that no student who
signed up for a slot and qualified was turned
The University has a duty to oversee CBNm,
and take responsibility for JJX. The licensee St uG r S
has to have control over its broadcast entity. 1
Rodger Wolf, an assistant to the vice presi- *
dent of student affairs and member of the Boardi n 0
of Directors, said the University recently hired
Kathy McKay as director of co-curricular act WJJX transp iits it( signal over
tivities. One of her responsibilities will b carrier currendines. Instead of trav-
aiding the Campus Broadcasting Network. eling thxou the air, the signal trav-
Oberg admitted that there is concern in the els over ne lines from transmitters
administration about the Campus Broadcasting into the , rms and the Michigan
Network's commitment to students. "There ate Union.
people at the University who are afraid we're Trfnsmitters sit on CtrntraI Cam-
veering off of our path." pus, North Campus and the Hill area.
Wolf added, "We're trying to take a more Theoretically; every 4tudent liv-
pro-active role in management. We always ?itg in the residence hall should be
want to get more students involved." z able to hear the signal, butthat is not
He said the University supports the Campus' the case.
Broadcasting Network. "There's never be Electrical appliances;sch ascom-
any desire to pull the plug on either of the puters and televisions, disrt the sig-
stations." .. nal and make it difficult pick up.
The future is looking up for JJX. The station\ "They all sort of Iaway at
now runs Monday through Saturday frorm 10 \WJJX's current,"'explai ted Ted
a.m. to midnight. The station runs a simulcast O'berg, the genesdi manager of the
of CBN when JJX does not have programrtiing. Cam s1s Broscasting Nework of
Station members have focused on recruit- which JXis a part.
ment and retention of new DJs. Carrn-, current peakedi several
The biggest step to regaining past glory may years bforete onslaught .f elec-
come before April if a promise by Oberg holds tronictechnolog said Oberg an LSA
true. Students in University housing may be senior; now summcamps n ght ust
able to listen to JJX on one of the Univearsity's- it.
cable television stations.
But will JJX live up to its past? Stay ined.
1987 Aug. 1991
in-profit WJJX goes off the air because WJJX comes back on the
coming to of racially divisive jokes. Office air, broadcasting on the
e country. of Student Services pulled the present carrier current and
WJJX to plug until the station pledged to frequency.
A short history of campus radio
1940s 1990s 1971
East, South and West Quad The clubs merged to form the Campus Broadcasters get the
are all supporting'their own Broadcasting Network. The three took idea to do "real radio"
radio station. The old turns broadcasting to each other with and start to change to
broadcast booths can still be advanced transmitters. Students living FM.
found in the basement. off campus could lease lines to bring
the popular signal to their homes.
CBN-FM goes on the air as an educational, no
radio station just as many young people weret
town to explore the hippest college town in th
The AM side, a commercial station, becomes'
eliminate such behavior